They once were lost, but now they’re found… Crusty Hard Rolls

Ah, there you are at last – the rolls I’ve been dreaming of lo, these many years.

My lost buns.

My… oh, never mind the superlatives. Let’s cut right to the chase.

Years ago Sue Gray, a long-time colleague here in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen, developed a recipe for light-textured, crisp-crusted, wonderfully flavorful, and truly elegant-looking hard rolls. They were featured on the cover of one of our catalogues; I remember the picture well, as it was one of those “I want that bread RIGHT NOW” shots.

Now, this was before online recipe boxes, or similar virtual storage methods. So I tore the recipe out of the paper catalogue and filed it… somewhere. Out of sight, out of mind. I made the rolls a few times, then forgot about them.

Until recently. In the process of having our office painted, the King Arthur Web team had to relocate for a few weeks; which entailed moving a whole bunch of stuff, including my collection of catalogues stretching back to the very first one, in September, 1990.

While trundling my catalogues down the hall to our temporary new home, I came across this one, from February, 2000:

There they are! Those rolls. The ones I loved so much.

But where’s the recipe? I’d already torn the page out of the catalogue, and my days of keeping manila folders stuffed with paper recipes is long gone.

Luckily, I found it online. With over 2,000 recipes on our Web site, it took a bit of searching; but the word “crusty” turned up 8 recipes, and I was quickly able to identify the one for these rolls.

Eureka! Made ’em. Loved ’em. They’re everything I remember.

And now, before I forget – I’m bookmarking this blog post!

Join me as I make Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls.

First, we’ll make a starter. Put the ingredients below in a bowl. The same bowl you’ll use the next day to make the dough is a good choice.

1/2 cup cool water
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix until well combined. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.

Next day – see those bubbles? Yeast, flour, water, and time, hard at work!

Add the following ingredients to the starter in the bowl:

3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix everything together until cohesive.

Then knead for about 7 minutes (at medium speed in a stand mixer). Knead about 10 minutes by hand.

Your goal is a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. It may also stick to the bowl just the tiniest bit.

Of course, you can also do this whole process (including the first rise) in the bread machine set on its dough setting.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, or in an 8-cup measure, as I’ve done here. The measuring cup makes it easy to track the dough’s rise.

After 1 hour, it will have barely risen – the 3/8 teaspoon yeast in the recipe is working slowly. But that’s OK, we want it to, because we’re giving this dough a long rise.

Gently deflate the dough, and return it to the cup or bowl.

Wait another hour; ah, that’s better.

Deflate the dough again, and return it to the cup or bowl.

Wait 1 more hour (for a total of 3 hours since you started).

Better still. See those air pockets? Yeast at work.

Did you know that yeast doesn’t reproduce in a low-oxygen environment – e.g., when it’s in rising dough? It simply eats and releases CO2 (which makes the dough rise), and organic acids and alcohol (which give the bread flavor).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 12 pieces. Shape the pieces into balls, firming them up by rolling them under your lightly cupped fingers.

Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them, and let them rise for 1 to 2 hours, until they’re puffy, though not doubled in size.

I was doing an experiment here, so divided the rolls between two baking sheets. You could crowd them onto one; but for best shape, six on a sheet is a good choice.

The rolls will flatten out a bit as they rise; that’s OK.

Very gently cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours.

This “cool rise” will increase the dough’s output of acetic acid, which will give them the merest tang; their flavor won’t be even close to that of sourdough, but will simply seem rich and more complex than that of the typical white roll.

Towards the end of the rolls’ chill, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Whisk together 1 large egg white and 1/2 cup cool water until frothy. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator, and brush them with the wash; you won’t use it all up.

Again, don’t be discouraged if the rolls seem a bit flat; they’ll pick up when they hit the oven’s heat.

Quickly and decisively slash the top of each roll.

Make the cut fairly deep; about 1/2” is good.

Immediately put the rolls into the oven.

Within minutes, they’ll start to puff up. WHEW. It’s always a scary moment when you slash risen bread dough and it starts to deflate…

Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown.

Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack. Or, for best crunch, open the oven door, and allow the rolls to cool in the turned-off, open-door oven.

Is this not a thing of beauty?

As well as a joy forever.

Nice interior. And notice the thin crust – which by the way is crisp, not leathery.

What a difference a day makes… On the left, a roll baked after a 2 1/2-hour rest in the refrigerator. On the right, baked after an overnight (16-hour) rest in the fridge.

You may be tempted to think “more is better,” but my experimenting tells me that 2 to 3 hours in the fridge is just right.

A dip in flavored olive oil is a delicious final touch.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. corig123

    These look delightful – I will definitely have to make them! Do you have any recommendations on when would be good to freeze them, if you can’t eat them all at once? (Midway through the process, or post-baking?)
    I recommend freezing them after baking. Enjoy! ~Amy

    You could also freeze the dough after its first rise; or shape the rolls, let them rise up to the point where they go into the fridge, then freeze.Once frozen, take them off the baking sheet, and wrap airtight. And of course, leave enough time to thaw overnight in the fridge when you’re ready to bake. Cheers- PJH

  2. argentyne

    oooooh, my very very very favorite type of roll EVER… and I can’t make them because I have throat surgery next week. No hard items for at least 2 weeks…

    gonna go make chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting instead. 😉

    (but I’d prefer the rolls, truth to tell.)

    Put this recipe on the back burner, then – hopefully in a few weeks you’ll be good to go. Best of luck with your surgery – PJH

  3. Darlene

    You have no idea how excited I am about trying these rolls. I’ve been searching and experimenting to re-create Danish rundstykker, which are literally translated to “round pieces.” Not very descriptive, but in essence they are hard rolls with billowy interiors. I’ve been able to re-create the billowy interior part, but the thin crispy crust has been elusive. From the looks of it, this may be them! Did I mention I’m so excited?

    Darlene, I hope these are the rolls of your dreams! 🙂 PJH

    1. Carol Mannon

      I have made these 3 times, and each time they end up being too dense. Also, where they are slashed doesn’t open up like in the pictures. I have followed the recipe exactly. Any idea what I am doing wrong?

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Carol,
      The most common reason why bread recipes turn out dense is because too much flour is used. We recommend measuring your flour by weight using a scale, or fluffing and sprinkling your flour gently into a measuring cup. These light cups of flour will create a light and tender interior crumb of the rolls.

      As for your comment about slashing, we have a helpful video that shows how to slash a baguette. You can use the same approach when it comes to your rolls. Using a lame is best, and it is important to make deep, quick cuts. Check it out and if you have any further questions, feel free to give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253). Kye@KAF

  4. ldrag

    I’d like to make these with the KAF sourdough starter I have in my fridge. How much of the starter should I measure out? And should I do anything special with the starter (e.g., feed it or let it come to room temp) before mixing it in with the other ingredients?

    Haven’t tried these with sourdough, and a lot depends on how thin/thick your sourdough is. But – I’d say try substituting 1 cup of FED sourdough starter for the overnight starter the recipe calls for, and go from there. You may need to add a bit more flour to achieve the dough consistency shown in the photos. Good luck – PJH

    1. Stan

      I made these twice using just one tablespoon of sourdough starter in the evening straight out of the refrigerator. I didn’t add any more for the morning rises(s), and they did just fine. There’s not much sourdough flavor, but the texture is just like in the pictures. This is an excellent recipe, and it’s not as complicated as it looks on first reading.

  5. red853

    I must make these this weekend. Are they anything like the German rolls Brotchen? I have been looking for a good recipe for those with no luck.

    Yes, actually – if you read the comments after the recipe, you’ll see one reader says they’re very close to brotchen. Enjoy- PJH

    1. Lisa

      I have an authentic briotchen recipe I got while in Germany from a home baker who said this is the one she made nearly every day because it is what she learned from her grandmother.
      Email storybakerlisa[at]me[dot]com for the recipe if you are still looking for one.

  6. pyro98

    Yah, now I can make hard rolls. My very close grocery with the nice bakery closed mid summer. I have been missing the ‘european’ style rolls they made. (and I can’t remember the names to search for recipes). I might play with substituting some sourdough starter for the overnight starter so that I do it all in a day…

    That should work – make sure the starter is fed and at room temperature, OK? PJH

  7. Cindy leigh

    I have been looking for a recipe for the dinner rolls at Bertucci’s. They are amazing. I thought maybe they have some semolina in them.
    I will give these a try!

    I wouldn’t doubt the Bertucci rolls could have semolina – gives them such pretty color… I think you’ll enjoy these, Cindy. PJH

  8. emdh

    Hi PJ. Can’t wait to add these to my KAF bread/rolls repertoire! One quick question — the recipe says to knead for 7 minutes on medium speed. I thought the kneading speed (at least on a KA) is #2, which is of course low. Do you guys typically use a higher speed for kneading, or just in this case?

    I typically use a higher kneading speed than KitchenAid calls for for, yes. On the KA, I don’t use the slowest, or the second slowest, but the next one up from that; it’s really hard to ascertain the numbers on a KitchenAid, so I don’t usually refer to them. It’s all just general guidelines, though – you really have to look and feel the dough to see when it’s ready. And there’s a lot of leeway there, too; the less you knead, the longer you let the dough ferment, as fermentation develops gluten every bit as good as kneading does. It’s all so flexible… that’s what I love about yeast bread. Enjoy – PJH

  9. woglinde

    Oh, how delicious thye look ! I got to make starter today, so we can hae them tomorrow. Thank you posting the recipe. This is something I have been looking for long time. I shall let you know how I did. elizabeth

  10. bskipton

    These look absolutely wonderful! Have you tried them with Whole Wheat or White Whole Wheat flour?
    I am not sure if Sue tried it with whole wheat but you certainly could make the substitution. Try replacing the AP with 1 – 1 1/2 c. of WWW or WW in the second addition. You may need to add 1-2 t. more liquid to balance the dough’s consistency. Elisabeth

  11. sallybr

    Oh, these are too lovely!

    I am now tempted to try them with a sourdough starter – what do you think?

    I would have to increase the bulk fermentation time, but perhaps it would work well too….

    Do them with fed sourdough stepping in for the overnight starter. If you don’t add any yeast at all then yeah, you’d have to increase the bulk fermentation time quite a bit… PJH

  12. maccourt

    Oh THANK YOU PJ! THIS is the recipe I’ve been waiting for. Read this at about 10:00 PM last night and almost stirred up the starter…wishing I had now. Will do it tonight and try them tomorrow. Thank you again!
    Good luck, hope you love them! ~Amy

  13. gaa

    PJ, these look great. I would like to try the whole wheat variation mentioned by Elizabeth. I prefer to measure by weight when I bake. Can you tell me the weight measurement for white whole wheat flour for this recipe?

  14. rcard

    The rolls look wonderful. I’m reminded of a neighborhood coffee shop that serves chili or clam chowder in a large version of these rolls. I believe they call them bread bowls. Would adding sourdough starter make these rolls into sourdough rolls?

    Substituting fed starter for the overnight starter would make these officially sourdough. They may not taste really sour; I’m thinking more of a tang instead… But they should be fine. Enjoy- PJH

  15. sera00em

    These look great! I do have one question though – can I do the starter tonight and come back to it tomorrow around noon? Or is that too long for “overnight?”

    Do it this evening, should be fine till tomorrow noon… PJH

  16. knitwitter

    Don’t you just love it when you find a recipe you thought was lost forever?

    Just yesterday I was wishing for a good hard roll recipe. I’ll definitely give this one a go!

  17. DebSmithMoore

    Why, oh why do you guys hate me? I am trying SO HARD to be good and follow a “food plan for weight loss” and exercise and THEN I see THIS recipe. *SIGH* Bread very well may be my downfall…

    Bake & share. Bake & share. Repeat after me: bake & share… 🙂 PJH

  18. marietta

    I cannot wait to try these rolls. They remind me of Vienna Rolls. Since I left RI there is nothing remotely close to this type of roll in GA. Although I am fairly new to bread baking, I find it to be very satisfactory compared to the overpriced soft rolls from the market.
    Thank you King Arthur Flour.

    Good luck with these, Marietta – I think you’ll find they’re very close to Vienna rolls… PJH

  19. DebSmithMoore


    Share with my hips, you mean? 😉 I think I may have gotten “does not play well with others” on a report card somewhere along the line!

    Actually, I love to make stuff for others, so that’s a very good idea. I just need to get it out of the house before I eat it all! Not much I like better than to eat bread fresh out of the oven with lots of creamy butter. Oh man! Now I’m doing it to myself! LOL

  20. omaria

    PJ Did anyone ever tell you you are a poet at heart ? The way you describe recipes is such a pleasure to read. Even if I am not interested in the recipe itself I still will read what you say about it. Of course I am very interested in this one. Love crunchy rolls.

    Thanks so much, Ria – I’ve always liked to think I’m part of Garrison Keillor’s (imaginary) organization, POEM (Professional Organization of English Majors); I actually did major in English in college… I just like words, and have for my whole life. Thanks again – PJH

  21. Lisa

    This is my first yeasted bread of any kind. My dough was matching your pictures exactly until the point of turning out after first rise. They just seem too wet and sloppy. Couldn’t roll into tight balls as pix show. THey are in for the cool rise now. And I will eat them no matter what. As you’ve said, there is no “bad” home baked bread. Any ideas where I may have gone wrong? I mixed in KA for over 10 mins. on medium speed, and could not get the dough to form around the hook. Thank you for this great awesome web site!

    Lisa, I suggest you call our hotline: 802-649-3717. It’s much easier to get to the bottom of this kind of issue via a back-and-forth, live conversation. I’m sure they can help you. Hope they’re tasty anyway – PJH

  22. yiuma

    which step/steps are actually contributing to the crisp crust? The egg white and water wash? No need for steaming/ice cubes/water spray etc…
    I cant wait to try it!Will certainly report back the result.
    Thanks King Arthur

    Yes, the egg white/water is mostly responsible – you’ll notice thre’s much more water than is usual in an egg white wash, so it’s equivalent to spritzing or brushing the rolls with water, which is equivalent to the ice cubes/steam in the oven process. Looking forward to hearing your experience with these- PJH

  23. omaria

    ok, I am sitting here typing with 1 hand because I am eating the lovely crunchy roll. I even let it cool in the oven, which was hard to do. Now I need to go and deliver them to daughters’ house and nieces’ house before I give into temptation !

    Hope you liked them as much as I do, Ria- PJH

  24. skeptic7

    These are beautiful. I am amazed in your courage in slashing the rolls. I have to bake my bread without slashes because I just know the knife will be unable to cut the bread and just smash it down, or will catch on the roll and deform it to and oval or ……. Do you have a special knife to do the actual cut?

    Just a really sharp one… Nothing special, though – a chef’s knife. It’s more the action – you have to be assertive yet controlled. Iron hand in a velvet glove. Slash! Slash! Then quickly – QUICKLY – into the oven. I’ve shaped baguette dough and then just practiced slashing it. It was worth it to get the “feel” of it. PJH

  25. Holly

    Made the rolls today – a huge success!

    Holly, thanks for sharing. Isn’t it fun to find a new “go to” recipe? PJH

  26. permfloat

    I knead my bread doughs in my Cuisinart DLC-X -I find the best thing for slashing buns and shaped bread doughs is the steel blad from the processor – serrated and very sharp!!

    What a neat idea! Thanks for sharing here- PJH

  27. cartvl219

    I first had rolls like this when I was visiting Caribbean islands. I was a travel agent and made many visits on ‘fam’ trips and always looked forward to the crusty, spherical rolls. They were usually white but at times whole wheat. Always delicious!!! 🙂
    When I lived outside of Boston, we could buy larger rolls, looked like kaisers but were very crusty and sold as Bulky Rolls. I used them to make submarine-type sandwiches. Here in NC they only seem to have one type of bread and rolls – soft, soft, softer. I will have to try this recipe, forming them as Bulkies.

  28. davidssa

    PJ, I have a question. In your recipe, you say that yeast doesn’t reproduce in dough. But in the 200th anniversary cookbook, it says “By the end of the first rising the dough will contain almost twice as much yeast as it did when it started. … Because there is twice as much yeast working, the second rising will take about half as much time as the first.” A boo boo in the book?

    I can’t wait to try these rolls. I have been looking for good hard rolls for a long time. And by the way, yesterday I made your chocolate bar thingies from earlier this week, and my family deeply and dearly thanks you. My husband came upstairs last night when he got home and as I was nursing the baby and said, “I really like this PJ person.” You’re a hero here.

    Thanks for your kind comments! Much appreciated. I wouldn’t say it’s a mistake in the 200th cookbook; but in the 20 years since that was written, yeast research has come a long way. We JUST learned that about yeast reproduction last month, from the folks at SAF. So – I’m going with current info. from the experts. PJH

  29. omaria

    PJ, the picture is up. Yes go to “Community”page and I think you type in my “omaria” name and you get to my page, then click on “more pictures” (For others who don’t know how to get there and want to have a look)

    Ah, and lovely rolls they are, too – hope you don’t mind my sharing the link – thanks for posting! PJH

  30. Sheri

    I made two minor mistakes, did rise in the pan on the counter, before I chilled them in fridge, also I had a minor oven issue (I forgot I was slow roasting tomatoes) and had to keep opening the oven to remove spilled charred tomatoes, the taste is great, the outsides never got crispy brown, due to the oven door being opned and closed so many times.
    Will try again, when I am not distracted by children or my own stupidity

  31. Kathy

    I just recently found your blog and I just had to try these beautiful rolls. My family couldn’t wait for them to come out of the oven! My husband is raving about them – says these are the kind you get in a fancy steak restaurant. Now he wants a filet, creamed spinach, and a nice piece of cheesecake to go with the rolls. I think I’ve created a monster. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. Barbara


      When hubby says he wants “a filet, creamed spinach, and a nice piece of cheesecade to go with the rolls,” you might want to ask him which two of the four items HE is going to make. 🙂 Don’t worry if he is a non-cook, as mine could cook only scrambled eggs until I had a very serious back surgery recently and he HAD to cook. He managed quite well under my tutelage, and even became quite good at making sauteed baby spinach with minced garlic and a splash of fresh lemon juice. If Jim can cook, your hubby can! Worth a try. 🙂

  32. tmsyd

    These rolls are absolutely amazing! I made them as instructed in the recipe. They are so delicious! It was difficult to stop with one…OK, it was difficult to stop after two.. After reading previous comments, I am anxious to try them with my sourdough starter. What would be the amount of fed starter to use? Thank you for sharing!!

    You can substitute 1 cup (about 8 ounces) sourdough starter for the overnight starter. Glad you like them! PJH

  33. maccourt

    My husband and I live in WI, but lived in NH for years. When we used to visit friends in VT we always made a stop to get Ba Ba Louis rolls. I made these yesterday and various issues kept delaying the process. I was doing all the various steps, just not in a particularly timely fashion. Anyways, we finally got to bite into our first roll at 9:00 PM (!) last night. My husband and I each took a bite, chewed a few times, then with mouths still full, mumbled, “Ba Ba Louis! rolls!”. I am just thilled to have this recipe. One question though. Considering the considerable time investment required, can one double this recipe? Is it just a matter of doubling everything, or am I safer making two separate batches. Ba Ba Louis rolls always came out of the freezer fine and I’m sure these would too.

    You can double everything except the yeast in the starter – use the same amount of yeast in the starter, but double the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon in the dough. I think that should work well. Glad they floated your boat! 🙂 PJH

  34. camhel

    I hear the Germans add some type of malt to their rolls at times (I guess from beer production). Would the addition of maybe some diastatic malt have a positive effect? What about using bread flour?
    Thanks for your help.

    You could try adding 1/2 teaspoon diastatic malt – it might give you a slightly higher/faster rise. If you use bread flour, increase the water by a couple of tablespoons, or enough to make the dough look like the photos in the blog post. PJH

  35. maccourt

    Thanks for your repsonse on doubling the recipe PJ, though I want to clarify. Would I double the other ingredients in the starter (water and flour) or do you keep ALL your starter ingredients the same, and double everything beyond that?

    Double the starter ingredients EXCEPT for the yeast – keep that the same. Sorry for the confusion! PJH

  36. ""

    I have a Zo and would like to use it to knead the dough. First, can I mix the starter in the pan of Zo (in one corner, gently) and leave it overnight so I’m all ready to continue in the pan the next day? Second, how do I adjust the rise times for using the bread machine? Do I press the dough button as usual and then shape the dough when it finishes, or would there be more rise time required beyond the standard dough setting time? Can I actually use that special button for setting your own times for the different steps if it needs more time? I’ve never been brave enough to create my own program, but I may as well learn to use it. Thanks.
    I checked the blog and you can make the dough in the machine on the dough cycle. You can use the bread pan to make your starter in, then leave it lightly covered overnight. Pop it into the machine, add the other ingredients and set the dough cycle. Then at the end of the cycle, pick it up where you begin the second 1 hour rise. ~ MaryJane

  37. LOIS

    I made these using the dough cycle of my Zo. I shaped the rolls and froze for three days. Then I thawed them in fridge for 18 hours. The rolls came out looking exactly like your photos, and the flavor was terrific! But the crust was definitely more on the chewy/leathery side than the shattering side. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    Hmmm… might have been the freezing part; the crust might have become a bit gummy during the freezing/thawing process. This would thicken it a bit, which would make leathery rather than crisp. Also, if your oven wasn’t hot enough, this would have the same effect… PJH

  38. yiuma

    I made it last saturday and intended to bring it to a friend .But we ended up tasting it during the ride and it was almost gone by the time we reached my friend’s home.These got great comment but one thing I wish to improve is that the crust is not as crusty and shaterry crisp as I wished for. Can I get it by increase the oven temp? Will keep trying.Thanks!
    Yes, it may be that the oven wasn’t quite hot enough. Try bumping it up 25°F and keeping a close eye on the baking time. ~ MaryJane

  39. MelonNet

    Are there any adjustments I have to make to bake this on a broiler pan? No sheet sheets or parchment about the place (T_T)

    Broiler pan would be just fine… just don’t get carried away and broil the rolls! 🙂 PJH

  40. marietta

    I made these rolls today and although they weren’t the prettiest things, the taste was fantastic. I have trouble slashing. I made eight rolls and put them on my half sheet pan. It wasn’t quite big enough so they became attached. I will definitely be doing this recipe again. It seems that I never get the oven spring shown on the blog but I’ll keep plugging. Also I cooked them at 450 as suggested in order to make sure I got a shattering crust for 22 minutes and allowed them to sit in the oven for an hour. Thanks for the recipe KAF.

    Marietta, are you using SAF instant yeast and King Arthur Flour? Watching the amount of salt closely? I’m trying to figure out what might be affecting your oven spring. Is your oven up to temperature, measured on an independent thermometer (aside from the oven temperature dial)? Keep at it- experimenting is always delicious, isn’t it? 🙂 PJH

  41. marietta

    Hi PJ! I am using SAF and King Arthur Flour. I measured my salt according to the recipe and the dough rises properly. After slashing, it deflates. I may need to check the oven as you suggested because it seems the spring just isn’t anything like the rise shown on the blog.

    Slash quickly – don’t fuss over each roll, as by the time you’re done, the first ones will have deflated a lot. And be sure to put the rolls directly into the oven – once you ascertain your oven is indeed accurate, I think this will help. One more thing – if the rolls have risen too much, they won’t have much oven spring. So don’t let them rise to their “ultimate” height before slashing, OK? Good luck – PJH

  42. gaa

    Thank you PJ for another winner of a recipe. I made these yesterday, followed your directions (your photos are always helpful!) and ended up with a dozen absolutely beautiful, yummy hard rolls! Golden brown, crusty with soft billowy flavorful interior. Spread with soft butter, they were perfect with the split pea soup and salad that we had for dinner. Because of you, my baking skills have soared. Practice makes perfect and with each KAF blog post looking better than the one before I am getting lots and lots of practice! So many recipes, so little time! My husband and my friends thank you!

    So glad we’re enhancing your reputation as your family’s best baker! 🙂 PJH

  43. sophia

    Can i make the starter and the bread using “bread flour” instead of AP flour? are they interchangeable? Thank you!

    Bread flour is stronger (higher protein level) it is designed exclusively for yeasted bread baking. Loaves and rolls come out a bit chewier with bread flour. You may substitute freely between the two. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  44. kcalla

    Just ate two! Delicious. I became confused on the final rise time. I second guessed myself whether the rise for the formed rolls was 1-2 hours on the counter Plus similar time in the refrigerator or not. I ended up with about 2 hours on the counter and 30-45 min in the refrigerator. No matter. They were delicious. While my crust was not “shattering”, it was wonderful. Next time I will chill longer in the refrigerator and bake at 25 degrees higher as suggested. I did use a teaspoon of diastatic malt. I made some of them oblong because we had them as rolls (brotchen) for bratwurst. They were fabulous. Glad to hear they freeze well. Next time I will make a double batch. I’m saving a couple of “round” ones to have with strawberry preserves!

    Yes, let the rolls rise until they’re quite puffy, then refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, to develop their flavor. And maybe “shattering” is misleading; the crust is thin and crisp, though doesn’t slake off in shards, like a baguette does. Enjoy the preserves – sounds wonderful! PJH

  45. smilemore

    PJ, your blog inspires me to bake! I keep making your trusted recipes knowing they have your creativity and taste signature. I have been hunting the web this week hoping for more posts from you only to find none. So, instead, I went back a couple weeks for more inspiration…which led me to this recipe! Great digging to breathe fresh life into this recipe. I loved it! Would you call this ciabatta rolls? I would like to make these into bigger loaves or mini baguettes, but I do not know what I could use them for since they are so chewy and crusty. Any thoughts? They were delicious! Bravo once again!

    Thanks so much – the word “inspire” makes ME “smile more,” as that’s one of our three chief goals here at King Arthur. We have this plastered on signs all over our buildings: “Inspire. Educate. Bake.” So, glad I could help. MaryJane and I pretty much divvy up the blogs, and it just so happened she had several in a row; I’m kicking back into gear this week (Tuesday), and will be posting frequently again.

    I wouldn’t call these ciabatta rolls, as their interior isn’t full of large holes, as a ciabatta would be. I’d call them more of a Vienna roll. And I think they’d be great for sandwiches. If you think they’re too crusty/chewy, use a soft sandwich filling (chicken salad, tuna salad, etc.), wrap tightly, and let rest in the fridge for several hours; this will soften them a bit. Enjoy! PJH

  46. Dave

    These rolls are GREAT!
    I just finished my second batch, since the first turned out picture perfect. This time I decided to double the recipe (per recommendations above) and go for bread-bowls for soup.
    It worked pretty well, I divided the doubled dough into 8 “bowls” which were just a little bit too small to be properly a bread-bowl, but worked just fine just the same. 🙂

    Also, a little tip. In my haste to get them ready, I completely forgot about the egg wash, and didn’t remember until I checked on them probably 10 minutes into their baking. My wife suggested brushing on some Olive Oil, and sure enough it created a VERY good crust and color. Not exactly the same as the egg wash would’ve been, but an excellent save if you forget.

    Thanks again for the great recipe, It’s a lot of time invested but completely worth it. 😀

    Dave, these would indeed make wonderful bread bowls – thanks for the inspiration, I’ll have to try that next time. And thanks for the olive oil tip, as well- bet that makes a tasty crust… PJH

  47. irleshay

    PJ, I’ve made these twice and they were delicious and the exterior was wonderfully crunchy. But there’s one problem — I can’t get them to look nearly as beautiful as yours!

    Do you have any slashing tips? Most of my slashes disappeared even though I tried to go deep enough. Should I flour or wet the knife in between cuttings? Is a serrated knife better? I tried the first batch with a paring knife, and the second with kitchen shears (barely slightly better result). I also plan to try the olive oil tip!

    Shirley, we hope to have a video of slashing techniques in the near future. I used a sharp chef’s knife, held at a 45° angle to the surface of the roll, and slashed quickly, decisively, and probably 1/4″ to 3/8″ deep. Really, it has to be fast, like swatting a fly; you can’t hesitate, or the knife will get stuck and drag. Practice makes perfect – or, at least better! 🙂 PJH

  48. sktyra

    I’ve always been a lurker on this blog but I have never commented before but these rolls were spectacular! After the first bite I was hooked and this will never become a lost recipe! The last batch I made I baked in a round loaf and it is just as glorious as the rolls. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


    Serena, thanks for stepping up and posting your thoughts here – welcome! Glad the rolls (and loaf) were a hit for you- PJH

  49. DebWoud

    I made these twice with great results and then used the same dough to make baguettes which also worked well. I bake in the UK and our flour is different (as you know). For your all purpose flour I substitute half-in-half our plain flour (low Protein) with high protein imported Canadian flour. It seems to work.
    In 1987 and then in 1994 I spent two separate semesters at Dartmouth while my husband taught there and I have very happy memories of your Vermont store. It is lovely to have found this blog. I use my King Arthur anniversary cookbook all the time.
    We are glad to be part of your good memories. Thank you for sharing this with us. ~Amy

  50. maccourt

    PJ, I’ve made these three times now. First time followed the recipe to a T. They came out perfect. Second time, doubled the recipe using your instructions. Didn’t have enough AP flour, so I subbed in 2 cups of white WW. Still wonderful. The third time I doubled the recipe again, but used 3 cups white WW flour. Still good, but better with only 2 cups – they seem to be getting kind of heavy with three cups. Ok, so the question is, I was looking at the catalog last night and noticed that your Artisan Bread Flour has the same protein content as AP, but with a touch of white whole wheat. Do you think this would work well for these rolls, or is the additional cost of the flour not compensated for with additional great taste? Thanks!

    Hmmm… Tough question. The Artisan flour would work very well in these rolls; the touch of white wheat, the mix of winter and spring wheats, and the ascorbic acid all combine to replicate, as closely as possible, the European-type bread experience. I’d say it’s up to you (and your finances) to decide if the extra cost is worth it… You could substitute KA AP flour, plus white wheat and ascorbic acid, if you wanted to make a homemade version to try. PJH

  51. "Tom in California"

    I appreciate the photos in the blog even though I made my first batch without seeing it. Next time I will use the same bowl as my mixer for the starter and cut deeper into the roll before baking. I couldn’t fit two baking pans on the same level and made the mistake of putting one tray on the bottom of the oven; burned on the bottom.
    The good news: the rolls came out great and probably the finest tasting bread I have made so far.
    Thanks KAF.
    I am glad you liked the flavor. These are tasty and beautiful rolls! Elisabeth

  52. MelonNet

    I made this recipe on a broiler pan, they came out deliciously! Problem I’m having right now is that I prepped the starter but it spent about 12 hours on the counter and then a house mate decided to pop it in the fridge where it was been for close to 24 hours.

    Question is, should I (sadly) toss it and start over or is it still usable?

    Should be just fine if you used a good strong yeast (not Fleischmann’s RapidRise). Give it a try; it may take longer to rise. If you’re worried, you could also add another teaspoon of instant yeast. Thankfully, it takes a lot to “disable” yeast dough. Enjoy! PJH

  53. Kathy

    Can you use ADY in place of the instant and still leave overnight? Do I follow the recipe as is using the ADY?

    Absolutely, Kathy; your rising times may be a bit longer, but no changes in ingredients are necessary. Enjoy – PJH

  54. Steph

    I nearly cried when I saw the photo of these!! I’ve been looking for this recipe for years!! I spend two weeks in Portugal 18 yrs ago and ate these every morning with the most delicious coffee!! I passed over the sweet rolls for these!! Thank you so much! I can now make the rolls I’ve been telling my children about all these years!!

    Steph, SO glad we could help. I hope these match your happy memories… PJH

  55. LL

    When I was young, we lived in Germany for about three years. My sister and brother used to get up early in the morning to stand in line at the local bakery to get the Brötchen fresh from the oven. I wasn’t one to give up my sweet slumber for any food (you name it), but I got to enjoy the wonderful warm Brötchen anyway, thanks to my diligent siblings. The indescribable sensation of biting through the somewhat chewy crust to the soft but substantial warm crumb, combined with melting cold butter and thick jam, lingers in my memory to this day. I just sampled one of the beautiful rolls I made today following your recipe, with the starter started last night, with 2 cups of the flour replaced by KA Bread Flour, 2 extra tablespoonful of water added, some plain and some with the cornstarch glaze that you suggested. I think the plain Brötchen we had in Germany had somewhat more character to them, but your recipe is definitely a keeper. I read somewhere that one should use the KA Italian flour to make the Brötchen. Will you kind people be developing a recipe specifically for Brötchen in the near future?

    So glad these come close. To develop a specific Brötchen recipe would be tough, as everyone’s idea of it (and their memory) is slightly different. I’d guess you could develop more flavor in this roll recipe by letting the dough rest in the refrigerator even longer. Give it a try, let us know how that works, OK? PJH

  56. LL

    You’re right, PJH. Every bakery has its own way of making the various versions of Brötchen. Your hard rolls recipe will serve as a good starting point for my experimentation. Thanks again.

    🙂 PJH

  57. kathi2044

    Looks wonderful. Am living in Switzerland, and believe it or not, having trouble finding brotchen that we like! That being said, I always have the flour issue here – this recipe calls for KA AP flour, would it work out with a flour with a lower protein content (9%)? I ask because other attempts at making rolls haven’t been too successful, and I thought maybe the flour was too heavy due to higher protein content. Of course, I could be completely wrong! also, can one substitute fresh yeast for the dry yeast? Will try later today, first I need to search and see what flour I have on hand!

    Yes, Kathi, you can use flour with a lower protein level; be sure to reduce the water a bit, so the dough isn’t too sticky. The rolls may not rise as high nor be as chewy, but they should definitely be tasty. Good luck! PJH

  58. Leah1962

    Can this be doubled?

    In general, doubled recipes that use up to 8 cups flour do not need yeast doubled as well. If the doubled recipe uses 8 cups of flour or more, then do double the yeast as well. Enjoy the journey – happy baking! Irene @ KAF

  59. JennaLynnD

    Make these! Make them NOW! Make them frequently! lol These are seriously the best crusty rolls I have ever made. My starter sat for a total of 24 hours before I used it without problem (it was lovely with inflated bubbles the size of large gumballs). I used my Pro-Line Heavy Duty Kitchenaid on the lowest setting for 7 minutes. I started with my scraper paddle to get everything mixed evenly (about 2 minutes) and then switched to my hook. All 12 rolls fit on my sheet pan without crowding or problem. I let them cool in the oven – PERFECTION! Don’t skip that part if you don’t have to!

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed the rolls, nothing compares to a hot, crusty roll with breakfast, lunch or dinner!-Jon

  60. Opa K.

    Growing up in Milwaukee many years ago, every bakery featured Hard Rolls. A crusty outside and a light inside with a single deep groove. So, they were called “Buns.” also “Semmel.” I especially remember warm hard rolls and ham on Sunday mornings. Alas, those days are gone forever, I thought. Until I found your recipe! How would you compare this recipe
    And would you suggest adding malt?

    Opa, I’m surprised at the amount of yeast in the linked recipe, which is reflected in the short rising time. I prefer a longer rising time to develop flavor. But if you like it – use it. When you find something you like, there’s no “right” or “wrong.” It’s right for you. As for malt – I like our hard roll recipe exactly as is. Were you talking about perhaps adding malt to the linked recipe? I’m a bit confused, sorry… PJH

  61. jenigerman

    Do I understand correctly…this is a total of 6 to 8 hours rise? Once they are shaped, they rise 1-2 hours on the counter, then afterwards another 2-3 hours in the fridge?
    Fingers crossed…my husband made some killer soup today, am hoping these will make it even better!

    I’m betting they were delicious. And yes, it’s a total of 3 to 5 hours (1 to 2, then 2 to 3). Enjoy – PJH

  62. soren bredsdorff

    I live in Denver Colorado and was exited to try the rolls!
    Didn’t work!
    The dough was kind of dry but after sitting for 3 hrs it did rise but after the 2 hours in the fridge they never came to life again. They tasted great but did not have the light appearance I see in your picture. Each one was a meal and not light at all! We are 5000 feet here in Denver. Could that have something to do with the outcome. How about skipping the time in the fridge? Also should I use more water?
    Looking forward trying again after your answer,

    Søren, so sorry these didn’t work out for you. Yes, baking at altitude does require some adjustments; please read our high-altitude baking tips, scrolling down to the yeast bread section; you should find the help you need there. Or, call our baker’s hotline: 855-371-BAKE (2253). The folks there will be happy to talk this through with you. Good luck – PJH

  63. Ron Polzin

    I have finally found some crusty hard rolls.I am from Milwaukee & I too remember Wilbers bakery on the northside.Just about every Sunday when we would come home from church we would stop at the store & get hot baked ham and crusty hard rolls.Out of this world I live in Hobe Sound,FL now not much German rolls down here.Thank you so much for the recipe

    Ron, I’m so glad we were able to connect you with some happy (and tasty) memories. Enjoy! PJH

  64. kathy

    These look so good………….I’m going to call them Amazing Grace rolls because your name reminds me of the song! Thanks!

  65. Hope

    I made these and they turned out too dense and leathery crust. What went wrong? I followed the recipe religiously but the dough seemed not as soft as you describe. Help! I’m desperately trying to reproduce my boyfriend’s Italian grandma’s legendary hard rolls. Any tips?
    Usually a dense interior and a leathery crust indicates that the dough proofed for too long. Try shortening up on your rising time by about 15-20 minutes. ~Amy

  66. Joe

    I would like some clarification if I could. After 3 of those 1 hour segments, you divide into balls and put 6 on each sheet of parchment paper and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours. Then the next think says cover with an oiled plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
    After making 12 balls do you let it rise room temp covered for 1 to 2 hours, THEN oil plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, or do you make 12 balls, cover with an oiled plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. The first sequence would take (3-1 hour rises, covered for 1-2 hours then in refrigerator for 2-3 hours). That’s about 7-8 hours before it hits the oven on the second day.
    Anyway that’s what I did, (3) 1 hr rises, 1 1/2 hours covered at room temp, then oiled plastic wrap and refrigerated for 2 1/2 hrs, then egg washed, slit, and in oven. Cooked 23 minutes, until golden brown. Came out beautiful but the bottoms were really hard and NOT close to being burnt.
    I guess to improve on that next time, I should cook for less time, maybe 18-19 minutes? Taste was absolutely delicious.

    Hope you can clear the confusion up for me.
    Place the 12 rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them, and let them rise for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, until they’re puffy, though not doubled in size. They’ll flatten out a bit as they rise; that’s OK. Then cover the rolls, and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours. Towards the end of the rolls’ chill, preheat the oven to 425°F. I hope this helps, Joe! ~Amy

  67. Karen K

    My daughter takes a warm crusty roll in her school lunch each day. I usually buy par baked rolls and heat for 10 minutes in the morning. Would like to use this wonderfully sounding recipe instead. Would you recommend freezing the rolls at a certain point in the rising process? Or would it be possible to par bake, freeze to re-bake another day? Any input is much appreciated.

    Sounds like you favor the quick and easy process of warming rolls in the morning for that fresh baked aroma and delight. To do this with your recipe, bake the rolls for 75% to 80% of the time listed in the recipe. The rolls will rise, but not brown. Once completely cooled, they can be frozen. Refresh or complete the bake at the same temperature until the rolls are browned to your liking. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  68. Ceci

    Your pictures and comments made it easy for me to follow this recipe. The rolls turned out beautiful and the taste was great. I added crushed unsalted sunflower seeds and raw oats to the rolls before baking for the extra crunch I enjoy.
    I am pleased you enjoyed the pictures and comments (and the bread!). Elisabeth

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Frankly, Stacy, I wouldn’t – even dried cranberries will change their light texture. But if you want to give it a try, knead them in after step #3, before you divide the dough into rolls. Good luck – PJH

  69. Dave

    while really tasty, mine were flat. they never formed a ball or rose to the occasion as it were. Yeast was not old, but the packet kind. any thoughts?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It sounds like your rolls were not properly shaped. It is important to make sure your rolls are tightly shaped into balls before rising and baking. Otherwise they are likely to spread out and flatten! Jon@KAF

  70. hydropsyche

    I’m glad you put the weight of the second round of flour in your version of this recipe. 14 3/4 oz doesn’t come near to 3 1/2 cups with the flour I’m using but it comes out perfectly moist with just a bit of sticking to the sides as you describe. I’ve read that when it comes to flour, always use the weight, if given. Maybe that is the problem some of the other posters ran into. They went with cups and ended up with a dough that was too dry.

    Btw, I made these yesterday for a dinner party. Came home and started another starter right away. Wow. I didn’t get a flakey crust but it was crunchy and chewy and wonderful. Thanks so much. I can’t wait for this batch to come out of the oven.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Nice work crusty-roll-baker! We compute the flour ounces based on 4.25 ounces per cup of flour. You’ll find more consistent results using the weights for recipes versus the volume or cup method – we’re glad you’ve found the method that works best for you. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  71. Katherine Kurzyniec

    God Bless, I’m totally hooked. Came out just like your picture’s. Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou!!!!!
    Gave some to neighbor, she called back to order a dozen more. We both laughed. We are in the country of NC. 16 miles to town. Therefore bake a lot for ourself. Had one this morning, with egg, bacon, and cheese. No resterant could match these. lol sent your way.

  72. justgloria

    Do you think using Quick Shine Spray instead of egg white wash will still give a crusty hard finish? (Running low on eggs out here off grid)

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes! This product should work fine to give similar results to an egg wash! Happy off grid Baking! Irene@KAF

  73. Sibyl

    My rolls are in the oven and they are smelling great! But I am nervous because my starter looked very dense for a starter. I measured out 1 cup flour and it seemed to be to much, anyone else have this problem?

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      If you are scooping your flour into the cup, it packs the flour in more tightly and gives you too many ounces per cup. Try fluffing up the flour, sprinkling it into the cup and then leveling it off for a lighter more accurate cup of flour. Thick starters can always be thinned with a bit of extra water too, they are very forgiving. ~ MJ

  74. Henny Ava

    I want to make these rolls but don’t have a bread machine. If I was to do it by hand how long should I knead it for.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If kneading by hand, knead for at least 8-10 minutes until the dough is soft and somewhat smooth. Enjoy! Elisabeth@KAF

  75. Pat Hankins

    I’m fairly new to bread baking and looking forward to making these rolls. I just have a question about deflating after the first and second rise. Is the dough turned out onto a floured surface or a greased surface?

    1. Amy Trage

      You can use either surface- whichever one works best for you! I prefer using one that is greased. ~Amy

  76. Lea Fullerton

    Made these today. Turned out okay despite my missing the part about letting the rolls rise for 2 hours at room temperature. I put them in the fridge for 3 hours. Thank you for the recipe. I will try these again tomorrow and follow the rising instructions.
    Obviously, you did fine, Lea. Long, slow cool rises are great for doughs like this; they really help to develop flavor. It will be an interesting experiment to see what the difference between the 2 batches turns out to be. Susan

  77. Amy Dawson

    I made these today for Father’s Day. They came out ok. I forgot to cut the slit in the top so they came out tough and didn’t crisp up like in the picture. I called the help line and they explained the importance of cutting the 1/4″ slit. The flavor is great, so I will make these again and won’t forget to cut the tops!

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Julie,
      Pale loaves can be a sign of over fermenting/proofing, or an indicator that the salt was accidentally omitted. I’ve done that one more than once myself! ~ MJ

  78. Laurie

    I have been trying to recreate some parbaked rolls that look almost exactly like these–but they are Parmesan rolls. They have all of the same ingredients with just 2 additions–mozzarella and Parmesan. I know it’s backed into the roll, and not added on top.

    Do you think I could add the cheeses right after kneading?or at another stage?


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Laurie-
      You certainly could knead some cheese into that dough. You would want to mix the rolls as directed until all your ingredients are well incorporated in a relatively smooth dough, and then you could add the cheese in right at the end of the mix before kneading. Sounds like a delicious variation, we hope you enjoy! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  79. kacy

    I tried them using sourdough starter which i fed last night. Added a little wholewheat flour. Turned out light and lovely. Tqvm.

  80. Will

    I have made these roll three times so far, but they always turn out showing almost no oven spring. I carefully weigh everything (except yeast & sale), and followed the directions to the LETTER, to no avail. I have tried moving the oven rack as well – same results.
    I also noted that the preferment (starter) had risen and fallen somewhat during the overnight, so I am going to try again tomorrow using a starter that I will make around 10 PM. I am in FL, and the house runs 74 – 77 at this time of year.
    Wish me luck.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good luck, Will! I think the shorter preferment time might help in your warm kitchen! It might also help to put the rolls in a bit earlier. Usually if I don’t see oven spring that is a sign to me that the dough has over risen before it got to the oven. Barb@KAF

  81. jorie

    Do you know what part of the process is responsible for the crispy outer crust of the roll? I have made many dinner roll recipes and can never seem to get the outside crispy.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Jorie, it’s a combination of ingredients and technique. The crispiest crusts are made with bread that doesn’t include fat, or if it does, the barest minimum. Think baguettes: flour, water, salt, and yeast, that’s it. And their crust is super-crispy. The other element is introducing steam into a very hot oven while the bread or rolls are first baking. You can do this via a hot cast iron pan set in the bottom of the oven, with boiling water added to the pan at the same time you load the bread. A third thing to try is, once the bread/rolls are baked, turn off the oven, crack the door open several inches, and let the bread cool right in the cooling oven. Try these suggestions, and I think your crusts will become crispier. PJH

  82. Dom Stamegna

    Tried these today for the first time. Taste great crust nice. But did not get the rise putting in oven. The starter seemed just a little wet. But when I mixed in kitchen aid for about 6minutes. Looked like pictures and handled nicely out if bowl. But when put on sheets and let raised ok. In refrig they spread out and flattened like the description states. Slashed the top and put in oven. How much time should there be between taking out of refrig and put into oven. Thanks for a great recipie

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Dom, You won’t want to delay putting the rolls in the oven after taking them out of the refrigerator, especially if you’re not getting much of a rise in the oven. Try to put them in a bit earlier and see if this helps. Barb@KAF

  83. Patty

    I have made these several times and they just get better and better every time I make them. My kids expect them now instead of other breads or rolls when they come home. I have my first holiday batch on its first rise as I write this. I was looking for a hollow roman roll like you get for breakfast in Italy, and this is denser, but even more delicious. Thanks for the recipe! If you love bread, you have to try this recipe.

  84. Jane

    What, do you think, is the smallest I could make these rolls? I’m hoping for the impossible – donut hole size, for appetizers. They would look amazing! But I’m worried the crust to interior ratio would be…..wrong? Off-putting?

    I’m so incredibly excited to find this recipe. Thank you, PJ!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Can’t say we have tried this before, but I wouldn’t go under 1 ounce of dough per roll. Jon@KAF

  85. Stephanie

    Hello, I have a question.
    I can’t make these rolls today (as I planned) can the starter stay out another day or should I refrigerate it? or throw it out and start over ?
    Thank you, a loyal reader and baker

  86. Stephanie

    Hello, I have a question for you today.
    Can I save my starter . I can’t make the rolls today and my starter is ready. Can I refrigerate?leave on counter? or toss?
    Thank you and looking forward to the crusty rolls !

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      For best results and leavening activity – being again with the starter so it has overnight activity. Happy baking – Irene@KAF

  87. Chocolate Lady

    Hello! I made these for the first time today and they turned out wonderfully! Crispy thin crust, beautiful crumb, and tangy flavor! I intended to double the recipe from the get go, got sidetracked as I was measuring, and inadvertently quadrupled the starter. Oops! Since I had lotsa dough to work with, I formed rolls, baguettes, a medium round loaf and shared the wealth with neighbors and friends. This is most definitely a keeper recipe! I feel so inspired!

    PS ~ My starter actually sat out on the countertop close to 24 hours, and it still worked like a charm! As a busy, employed homeschooling mom of 4, I’m so thankful my baking blunders of the day still worked out. Again, many thanks for posting and sharing such a wonderful recipe!

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      I would call that a blessing in disguise. Great job putting a positive spin on the “mistake”. I’m sure the kids learned from this too. ~ MJ

  88. nightmoon

    the recipe says to brush with an egg white mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water; the blog says to brush with an egg white mixed with 1/2 cup of water. can you clarify?

  89. Jamie

    I don’t generally keep instant yeast on hand. Would it be possible to substitute active dry yeast? If so, what would need to change in the amount/process? More yeast maybe, and warm water, instead of cool, in the starter?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure, feel free to use the active dry yeast. I would not suggest to change anything in the recipe to use it. If the yeast is fresh and active then add it directly to your flour. Jon@KAF

  90. Donna

    Is t possible to freeze these fools after shaping but before baking? Would love to do the work in advance and thaw them easter morning to put in oven for brunch?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can make the dough Saturday as far as shaping the buns. Shape and place in the fridge overnight. Bake in the morning. Another option is to mostly bake the rolls and then freeze, then thaw ans bake for another 5-7 minutes to reheat. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  91. Adele Hattingh

    I don’t have SAF Red Instant Yeast, do I have to change the quantity if I use another type of yeast for instance Anchor Instant Yeast?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to use whichever type of instant yeast you have on hand or what is accessible to you. We have had best results using the SAF Red Instant yeast in our Test Kitchen, but other brands perform equally well. You can even use active dry yeast in place of instant yeast; we’ve found that active dry yeast is a little bit slower off the mark than instant but that it usually catches up to the instant yeast by the end of a long rising period. If a recipe using instant yeast calls for the dough to “double in size, about 1 hour,” you may want to mentally add 15 to 20 minutes to this time if you’re using active dry yeast. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  92. Delores Paterick

    I made these today. I used bread flour and they turned out great. I also did the mixing in my bread maker then unplugged it and let them rise for the 3 hours in it. This is the best crusty roll receive I have found. They were time consuming but worth every minute of it.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Delores, so glad you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for sharing your bread machine technique. Barb@KAF

  93. Nick M

    Hello I was wondering if it was possible to use regular active dry yeast in this recipe. If so how much should I use. Thanks.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sure, Nick, use the same amount of active dry as instant yeast. And there’s no need to “proof” or dissolve the yeast first; so long as you know it’s good (i.e., it hasn’t been sitting around forever), you can just add the yeast along with the other dry ingredients. The active dry may take a bit more time to rise, so factor that in. Good luck – PJH

  94. Grace

    Could I make these without chilling in the refrigerator? Or maybe chill in mixing bowl prior to shaping? I could fit a mixing bowl in the fridge but maybe not the baking sheets. Thanks!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The chill slows down the yeast activity, as PJ explained. You can chill the bowl and bring it out to warm up and shape but your results, while delicious and tasty, may not be exactly the same. The cool final fermentation really helps to bring out that blistery crust! Happy baking- Laurie

  95. Mrs T

    I made these yesterday, and they were a big hit. One difference was that I only had “bread machine” yeast; wasn’t sure if that is the exact type of yeast as the recipe specifies, but everything seemed to go well. In the morning, I let the bread machine take over through the first rise. After that, I followed the directions exactly. Three hours in the refrigerator. The only thing I forgot was to brush the egg white wash on the rolls before putting them in the oven–oops! The crust was a little thicker than I like, but I think that’s an oven temp problem, as the rolls were deep brown after only 16 minutes. Will check my oven temp with a thermometer later today and see if that’s the problem.

    So thank you for a terrific recipe! I can’t wait to make these for my mother–she loves hard rolls!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mrs. T, we don’t recommend using yeasts specifically labeled “Rapid Rise Yeast” in most homemade bread recipes. While it is helpful if you are in a rush and need to speed up the bread-baking process, we’ve found that is lacks in flavor and usually does not create the texture we are looking for. A slower rise takes patience but the flavor that develops during a longer rise time is so worth it: deep yeasty flavor is your reward. We’re glad to hear these rolls were a success regardless. We hope you give it another try soon! Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  96. Mrs T

    Okay, I tried it again, this time using active dry yeast. I agree, the flavor is better! I know I’m still not using the type of yeast you recommend, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.

    This time I only baked six of the rolls; the other six were thrown in the freezer at the point where the others went into the fridge. Looking forward to seeing how those beauties turn out! Thank you for a delicious recipe.

  97. Michael Harris

    What would it take to get similar results out of the heel of a pizza crust. My favorite crusts are like a roll at the heel and docked so that they are fairly thin under the toppings with still a little bread like texture but crisp on the bottom. I hate the cracker-like pizzas that are so popular today. Thanks.

  98. Terry

    Have tried these twice, I love the crust on them but my rolls keep coming out too dense, not sure what im doing wrong. my dough proofed up alot better this time around but when baked the dough still came out pretty dense. I was using an older pack of yeast. only other thing i can think of is when I deflate the dough maybe im pushing down too much on the dough? But the end result is more along the lines of an english muffin. Any ideas on how to fix this?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Water, water, water. If you’d like to have your loaf less dense, please review how you measure your flour here: However water is key to making a light loaf, since it allows the gluten to fully hydrate and the loaf to rise to its lightest state. Use water enough that the dough is soft and supple when the kneading is done. Happy baking-Laurie@KAF

  99. Rodinka47

    Wonderful to see all the responses to this recipe! It would make a nice small loaf as well, I think… I’m just tickled that it takes time to make and that flavour is the goal, not just rolls! Thanks for this one it’s going to be a go-to recipe!

  100. Caoimhe

    These are just the most amazing rolls I’ve ever made! Thank you so much for the recipe/tutorial! I’m used to making sourdough bread every week (which takes about two full days from beginning to end), so the time involved didn’t bother me, and it’s really not at all labour-intensive. We’re vegan, so I just spritzed the rolls with water several times during the baking process, and it seemed to yield the same crust as described and photographed in the original recipe. They are *exactly* the rolls I had been seeking: the blistered, crunchy exterior and the moist, fluffy, and slightly tangy interior are the stuff of which memories are made. They’re just a perfect all-around roll and–per my husband’s plea–are destined to become part of the usual weekly baking rotation. 🙂

  101. Jackie

    I wish I’d thought of coming here before making these straight out of the Baker’s Companion book. The book says to put them in the fridge overnight and the result is flattened out lumps when they were beautiful, round and puffy last night.

    Three days between poolish, dough and refrigeration and I have lumps. 🙁

    Maybe they’ll still taste good. But now I know to only put them in the fridge for a couple of hours.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We hope you consider this a learning opportunity, Jackie. The book does offer two choices for refrigerating the shaped rolls – several hours or overnight. Another culprit might be shaping, so here’s a great new video about . Now that we know “overnight” didn’t work for you, please give “several hours” a chance when you are ready. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  102. cdrplm

    I’m making these rolls this weekend for guests. How can I make them ahead of time on Saturday, but not baked them until Sunday? Is this possible?

  103. Doug

    Just took my first batch out of the oven. I didn’t get the oven spring I thought I would, though the results look pretty much like the picture at the top of this article. The rolls are about 2.5 – 3″ in diameter, with the top slash spread to about a half inch. Is that what I should expect?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The rolls will be about 3″ across, with the slash as described. For better oven spring, let the rolls proof a bit less and bake in a hot oven with steam. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  104. Lisa

    Crust and crumb were perfect. I did an egg wash, sprinkled coarse kosher salt, and hit them with a jolt of steam when I put them in the oven. Crunch and pull. . .so good! Great recipe. The slow proof gives them a deeper, more complex flavor. Thanks for this one!

  105. Marils

    Can I use lecithin in this recipe to improve their shelf life, or will it change the texture of the roll too much? If so, how much lecithin would you recommend?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Marils, I think it would be fine to add 1 tablespoon of lecithin to this recipe to improve shelf life. Barb@KAF

  106. Annie

    looks delicious! could I halve this recipe, or if I were to freeze (some of) the dough at some point, when should that be / what adjustment would I make?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to halve all the ingredients. Freezing for a short while (a week or so) would be fine. Freeze the dough in bulk, then thaw overnight in the fridge and shape and rise the next day. Long term freezing will deteriorate the dough. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  107. Rachel B.

    I made these rolls for dinner tonight. It was my second time ever making a yeasted dough and they turned out wonderfully! My first foray into yeast bread was the no knead artisan bread. It was good, but the videos on the site as well as Richard Bertinets “Dough” video really helped me with my shaping and structure. They do taste very much like Vienna bread, which I love and can rarely find. Will have to experiment with making and freezing the dough before the fridge rest so we can have fresh rolls in a pinch! One question, the egg wash on the recipe page and the wash on your blog have very different water amounts. (1-2 Tbsp vs 1/2 Cup). Can you tell me how that might affect the crust?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Rachel, in the blog you’ll notice how it says not all of the water and egg wash will be used up with the 1/2 cup. So really, either amount is going to be wonderful and yield very similar results. The only difference you might notice would be the egg wash with less water browning a bit more because it has a higher concentration of egg. Bryanna@KAF

  108. Katja Falla

    WOW!!!! OMG!!! just made these awesomely yummy buns and I am TOTALLY IMPRESSED!!! They are nice and crusty on the outside BUT soo nice and soft on the inside!! They taste sooo yummy!!!! 5 stars for this recipe!!! Everyone loved them and the ones I send a pic to wanted me to make some more for them!! Next time I make it am going to add cheese and make cheese buns.
    Can’t wait to test out some of your other recipes!

  109. Ronda Schaadt

    When we visited Germany a couple of years ago, we had hard rolls that were covered in seeds. The rolls were hard on the outside, but soft on the inside. They were typically served with cheeses and meats at breakfast and lunch. Have you ever tried putting seeds of any kind on them after you brush with the egg wash before baking? These sound like they could be similar to what we had but without the seeds. I guess I will have to experiment to see how they turn out.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Ronda. You could absolutely sprinkle seeds of any kind onto the tops of your rolls. Brush with egg and sprinkle till your heart is satisfied! It sounds like a wonderful addition. Bryanna@KAF

  110. Tina

    Can i use this recipe with my bread machine, with bread machine yeast, and after the dough cycle is complete then place on the pan to bake? I’m new at this 🙂

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Tina, you’ll need to made the starter the night before, regardless of the mixing technique you use. The next day, you can mix all of the ingredients and knead them together with a bread machine if you like. Take it out of the machine as soon as the kneading is done because you need to be able to deflate and turn the dough over onto itself each hour for 3 hours in a row. (The dough cycle won’t do this.) You’ll want to proceed with the recipe by hand after this step is done. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  111. Natalie Vetrano

    I’ve made these bread rolls before and they were amazing and delicious!!
    I’m making them for a second time now and for some reason the rolls did not turn a golden brown?? I feel like I followed all the steps, did I do something wrong??

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Natalie, if you want a deeper color, try brushing the shaped dough with milk, cream or even melted butter to help give it a nicer shade of brown.

  112. Al F

    I made these hard rolls to go with an Italian sausage and peppers dinner. They were just great and fresh from the oven, the sandwiches were just fantastic. I didn’t get a lot of rise to the rolls though. They remained sort of flattish. I subdivided the dough into 8 to make larger sandwich rolls, but I don’t think that’s why. I wonder if my dough was too moist? I had to add extra flour even though I measured everything in grams. I didn’t want to overdo it,and the dough was a little tacky, but not sticky. I didn’t really give the oven a good preheat. Might that have anything to do with it? The dough otherwise acted pretty well, rising nicely. The starter looked just like the photo. Will make them again, for sure. Thanks.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Al, an oven that wasn’t up to temperature can certainly result in rolls that don’t rise as high as you like. Most ovens aren’t fully preheated even if their signal goes off. I like to use an independent thermometer on one of the oven shelves to get its true temperature; my oven takes about 25 to 30 minutes to preheat. If the dough is too moist, it can “rise” sideways rather than up; if too dry (too much flour), its rising is impeded. It sounds like your dough was fine, though — tacky, but not unbearably sticky. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw with weather; yeast baking can take on a life of its own! I’d definitely try these again; I love the result, so it’s worth working on a bit. Good luck — PJH

  113. Lee Davis

    QUESTION: about putting a hunk of cheese in the middle?

    These are just the rolls I’ve been looking for. Years ago a friend made them, and before baking she put a hunk of cheese in the middle and wrapped the dough around it in a little bundle. OMG, here it is 30 years later and I still think about those buns all the time. (ha ha)

    My question is this: at what point in the process should I put the cheese inside and wrap the dough around it? (I assume it is between the first and second rise, but I want to know for sure).

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re thrilled we can help revive the memory of such a tasty treat, Lee–it sounds delicious. Yes, we’d suggest adding the cheese during the shaping process (between rises). For optimal meltability, we’d also suggest chopping the cheese into smaller cubes, or even shredding, before shaping your dough around it. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  114. shari mirman karoll

    i made these rolls this afternoon. first time for me. they are cooling in the oven as i type. if they taste anywhere near as good as they look i will be thrilled, because they look spectacular.

  115. Heike Kubasch

    Could I get exact directions for partially baking, freezing, thawing and then reheating these rolls? I’m a novice in these matters.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Heike, our team of bakers has come up with a few different options for making these rolls ahead of time. Here’s what we’ve said:

      You could freeze the dough after its first rise; or shape the rolls, let them rise up to the point where they go into the fridge, then freeze. Once frozen, take them off the baking sheet, and wrap airtight. And of course, leave enough time to thaw overnight in the fridge when you’re ready to bake.

      Another option for partially baking the rolls: bake the rolls for 75% to 80% of the time listed in the recipe. The rolls will rise, but not brown. Once completely cooled, they can be frozen. Refresh or complete the bake at the same temperature until the rolls are browned to your liking the next morning. If you need more details, feel free to call the Baker’s Hotline at 855-371-BAKE(2253). Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      HI there,
      This particular recipe really does need the overnight rise, but if you plan to make that before bedtime, and then make the dough in the morning, you’ll be able to rise and bake your rolls in time for a nice early dinner. Happy baking! ~ MJ

  116. Dottie

    My New Years resolution was to work with yeast. Have conquered bagels, pretzels and Danish pastry. Hard rolls were always on my “want to” list. So it is ok to make the starter and leave it in the fridge overnight and finish them the next morning? Otherwise it seems like an all day affair and by the time they are done dinner is over. I am anxious to get started. Thanks for finding the recipe. D

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Congrats on all your progress thus far, Dottie! If you click on the link to see the full recipe, you’ll see that step 1 says, “Mix the starter ingredients together until smooth, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.” Hope that helps clarify! Kye@KAF

  117. Tom NE Pa

    For everyone who is having a problem with slashing the tops of bread and rolls here is a trick that I use. Just take a sharp pair of kitchen shears hold upright open and close cutting the top. Easy peasy. The brand I use are KitchenAid , about $10 on Amazon and you get two different types. I’ve had these for many years and I love them. Happy baking.

  118. PJ

    Hi PJ, another PJ here :). Thank you so much for digging this up! I’m not sure but I think the ratio of the starter might be a bit off in the recipe. The image shows a starter that seems to be closer to a 1:1 ratio but the recipe has a 2:1 flour to water ratio. It may also explain all the comments about density of the dough.

    Using 1 cup water and 1 cup flour for the starter, I had a fantastic result. Hope this helps people!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi other PJ, thanks for the note! The ratio as written here is correct and is considered a 1:1, or 100% hydration starter. This is because these ratios are calculated based on the more accurate measurements of weight rather than volume, and the weight of 1/2 cup water (4oz) is roughly equivalent to 1 cup of flour (~4.25oz). That being said, when measuring by volume it’s very easy to get more than 4.25 oz of flour into 1 cup, which is often why dough can end up heavier and denser than intended, and may be why your dough worked so well with added liquid. Mollie@KAF

  119. Tina C Millard

    Delicious! I followed the directions completely except for using only one teaspoon of salt. I cooled the rolls in the oven with the door open. The crispy crunchy crust is marvelous. The inside is soft. I opened the rolls using fork tines as if with an English muffin. I am most grateful for the recipe. Thank you!


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